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Tuesday, January 03, 2012
January 3, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:29 PM :: 8909 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

After Secret Selection Process, Abercrombie Names 1980s Old Boy Tom Okamura to Aiea House Seat

VIDEO: Lingle Campaign Focuses on Tourism Job Growth

Hawaii County Releasing Geothermal Working Group Report

Update: Hawaii's Civil Union Lawsuit Dismissed Due to No Cause of Action

National Media Already Looking at Hawaii GOP Caucus

“With the national media watching — Alabama and Mississippi have primaries the same day — it could be news in Obama's home state that local Republicans voted for Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or whoever is still in the running come March.”

Hawaii's caucus will still follow other follow big races, notably Super Tuesday on March 6 that features 10 states (including Ohio) holding either a primary or a caucus.

But Hawaii is ahead of the Missouri caucus (March 17), the Illinois primary (March 20) and a slew of major primaries in April, May and June.

New Jersey and California, for example, don't hold primaries until June 5. The last primary is June 26 in Utah.

Chang, who has been contacted about the caucus by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and other mainland media, said national exposure has already started.

read … Hawaii GOP Hopes Local Caucus Will Grow Party

Hawaii Republican Party changes caucuses in hopes of gaining more members

KHON: The Hawaii Republican Party will hold its Presidential Caucuses on Tuesday, March 13th from 6pm to 8pm.

"Everyone goes, votes. At 8pm they'll close, count the ballots and the votes will be allocated to a proportional method to each of the Presidential candidates they vote for," said David Chang, Hawaii Republican Party Chair.

In the past, Republican Caucuses were more informal, happening over the course of several days at homes, businesses and parks, mainly to choose the delegates that would go to the State Convention.

But this time around, party members will directly vote for the candidates.

SA: Hawaii GOP sees caucus as recruiting opportunity

read … Caucuses March 13

Star-Adv to DoE: Fudge the 180 Day Law instead of Using Failure to Demand Another $50M

SA: According to a report filed at the request of state lawmakers, however, the amount of actual instructional time seems to vary widely. Measured in weekly minutes of instruction, last school year Hawaii public high schools ranged from 1,632 at Farrington to 1,255 weekly minutes at Waiakea.…

Of course, many variables affect student success besides time spent. But if the DOE hopes to boost results at more schools, applying successful strategies where they can be effective, it would help to level the playing field by making at least some criteria essential, and instructional time as part of the baseline makes sense.

The lawmakers who ordered up this study seemed less than satisfied with the results, and with good reason. There's no plan of action, for starters, and the schools needed better guidance on what can count toward their required minutes.

The report defines instruction as time spent in homeroom and in class, "scheduled activity periods," study hall and student progress reporting. Legislators asked the department to make other potential time additions, suggesting that time spent in mentorships, taking online classes or extracurricular activities could be included. Those issues don't figure into the report, which, said state Sen. Jill Tokuda, was a "missed opportunity." (To fudge the results by claiming all kinds of stuff as instructional time)

Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, is right about that, and on another point. The DOE expressed concern about the challenge of reaching the minimum bar and estimated the cost of that at about $50 million. They haven't explained why those funds are needed, Tokuda said, given that some schools are coming close to goal without added funds. Such questions will have to be answered when the state Legislature takes up the supplemental budget request after the session opens in a few short weeks. (Bus instead of faking it, the DoE would rather claim to be an abject failure and hit the Legislature up for another $50M.)

read … Instructional time needs uniformity

Slater: Star-Adv Headline Just Plain Wrong

HR: Honolulu Star Advertiser headline was,“Rail project cleared for federal funding.”

However, that headline was plain wrong. You had to read further on in the Star Advertiser to find out what the federal government was really saying.

“[FTA Administrator} Rogers noted the city's current financial plan proposes several ways the city might raise additional money if construction costs escalate unexpectedly or if the anticipated local or federal funding does not materialize.

“For example, the city suggested in its September financial plan that it might seek state approval to extend the half-percent excise tax to help cover any shortfall, and noted that extending the surcharge by two years, through Dec. 31, 2024, would generate an extra $740 million. The city also suggested that, if necessary, it might engage in "value capture" strategies to raise additional money if there is a shortfall.

Those might include issuing tax increment financing bonds, which would allow the city to borrow against expected future increases in property tax collections.”

When you read the FTA’s actual letter, the wording is even stronger

read … And now for the Rest of the Story

2012: First Open Senate Race Since 1976

CB: The 2012 Hawaii election will be the first since 1974 in which Neil Abercrombie will not be a candidate for office.

Two congressional races are open: the one for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka, who is retiring, and the one for the 2nd Congressional District seat left open by Mazie Hirono, who is gunning for Akaka's job.

Another Democrat, Ed Case, is also in the Senate hunt, as is Republican Linda Lingle. It's the biggest race of the year for Hawaii, the first open U.S. Senate race since 1976….

Will Djou's deployment to Afghanistan and semi-moderate politics help him against the union-loving, Inouye-acolyte Hanabusa, who failed three times — against Case, Hirono and Djou — before finally being elected to Congress?

CB: Big Changes in Store for Hawaii's Congressional Delegation

CB: Civil Beat Poll: Hawaii Voters Say Congress Most Influenced By Wealthy

read … Hawaii Election 2012: A Preview

Plastic bag laws well-intended but cause more harm than good

SA: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

These are words you don't hear often enough, which is why Hawaii lawmakers should promote this mantra as an alternative to mandatory plastic bag laws based on sentiment rather than science

There are no "better" alternatives to plastic bags. Reusable totes are often used for a variety of purposes; yet failure to wash them dramatically increases public risk to food-borne illness. Materials like jute and hemp are often transported thousands of miles using overseas labor. Double-bagged paper releases methane into the atmosphere.

Taxes and bans disrupt the free market and overlook new technologies that specialists have worked on for decades.

Hasty approval of "band-aid" bag bills negates lifetimes of effort, advancements and public dollars, which can easily be spent more effectively.

Bag laws are nothing short of irresponsible, incorrect and costly emotional claims based on bad science. When will it end?

Related: http://seattlebagtax.org/

read … Reason from Maui

Computer glitch delays getting civil unions applications

SA: A computer glitch at the state Health Department this morning caused delays and frustrations for a handful of same-sex couples and civil union officiants trying to get registered for civil union ceremonies, which became legal in the islands at midnight Sunday.

The Health Department's online registration system works, but two computers at the Health Department were inexplicably not working this morning, spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

Okubo said that state registrar Alvin Onaka was able to help four or five same-sex couples this morning at a different Health Department computer, including a couple who need the certificate to have their civil union ceremony performed later today….

But Timothy Earhart, president of Dignity Honolulu, a branch of a national organization of gay Catholics, said he saw three same-sex couples turned away from the Health Department just after 7:45 a.m. this morning — including one couple that wanted a civil service ceremony performed later today.

MN: Oklahomans, South Africans hold Maui gay unions

KGI: Same-sex couples eligible for many rights opposite-sex couples have

read … Lightning Bolt

DoE Bus Contracting System Obscures Basis of Competition

CB: A Utah firm, Wasatch Transportation, did make offers, though, on every contract up for grabs this year, and was the lowest bidder on four of them. While not all of the newcomer's prices were lower than those offered by established Hawaii contractors, some were significantly lower than the local bids.

One special education route in West Hawaii, for example, received bids of $619,000 and $630,000 per year from two Hawaii companies. Wasatch's bid was $493,000 per year.

Wasatch CEO Ryan Fuller said he has not heard yet whether his company will actually receive the awards. Still, he thinks the school district could take notes from other mainland districts that contract out for bus services.

Hawaii's procurement process for school bus services is different from that of other school districts, he said, noting that usually the invitation for bids will include a point system used in determining which bidder will receive the contract. Other states award points for things like equipment quality and the company's safety record. The winner is the one who ends up with the most points, which allows the state to select the best bidder, instead of simply the lowest bidder.

"Price is usually worth about 30 percent in a point system," he said.

Hawaii's bid documents, however, did not have any place for companies to discuss competitive advantages in equipment or company track records — at least not up front.

But he received a letter from the Department of Education after the bid opening, asking him to do essentially that, by outlining how he plans to perform the responsibilities laid out in the contract.

read … Lessons From New Competition

Mainland –Style Group Seeks to Organize Hispanics

Nearly 1 in 10 Hawaii residents identifies as Hispanic, an increase of 38 percent over the last decade, and some observers expect the group to attract more attention this year as political campaigns heat up.

"In my opinion, 2012 will be the year of the Latino in Hawaii," said Jose Villa, publisher of Hawaii Hispanic News, who is urging Hispanics to run for office.

(Portuguese & Puerto Ricans have been here for over 100 years and now they are to become victims?)

read … Hispanic population growing in Hawaii

Grand Wailea: Free iPads for First 10 Gay Civil Unions

The new year could bring Hawaii hotels a wave of same-sex marriage ceremonies.

At least, that's what they're hoping.

Many hotels in Maui especially, where there were 5,900 non-residential marriages in 2010, are specifically targeting same-sex couples now that a law went into effect Jan. 1 legalizing civil unions.

The Grand Wailea, for instance, is offering free iPads to the first 10 couples who sign up for civil union packages, according to The Maui News….

At The Muse Hotel (in New York), for instance, concierge Marc Camacho got ordained as a minister shortly after the civil union law went into place. It took him about a week of studies, which the company supported by giving him time during the work day.

read … Hawaii hotels welcome same-sex unions

City Councilman Tom Berg to announce re-election plans

HNN: Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg will officially announce his re-election plans on Tuesday. The event is scheduled to take place at Kapolei Hale at noon.

read … Berg for Council

Redistricting Hawaii Co Council: Brittany Smart Not Seeking Another Council Term

Brittany Smart announced today that she will not be seeking a second council term at this time, but is keeping her options open for the future. “Due to personal reasons, I am unable to commit to another two year term at this time. I am honored to serve District 6, but have to think of what’s best for the people,” she stated.

Ms. Smart, however, expressed her support for Councilmember Brenda Ford for the District 6 seat.

read … Brittany Smart Not Seeking Another Council Term

State has created an online list that lets Homeowners compare rates from 14 Insurers

SA: As part of a push to drive down the cost of home insurance and ensure consumers aren't paying for coverage they don't need, the state has released home insurance quotes for 14 providers who volunteered the information.

The 14 represent about half of all providers operating in Hawaii.

To compare rates on home insurance, go to www.hawaii.gov/dcca/home_rates

(Great. Now lets get 14 health care insurers into Hawaii and compare their rates.)

read … Health Care

Office vacancies continue climb

SA: The amount of empty office space on Oahu hit a nine-year high of 13 percent in 2011, and likely will rise again this year, according to a new report.

The amount of empty office space on Oahu hit a nine-year high of 13 percent in 2011, and likely will rise again this year, according to a new report.

A survey by commercial real estate firm Colliers International said office tenants vacated the rough equivalent of a 13-story building, or 137,361 square feet, last year to push the vacancy rate to 13 percent from 11.8 percent in 2010.

read … Empty Space

Hybrid Owner Sues Honda For Low Gas Mileage

A woman who expected her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid to be her dream car wants Honda to pay for not delivering the high mileage it promised. But rather than joining other owners in a class-action lawsuit, she is going solo in small claims court, an unusual move that could offer a bigger payout if it doesn't backfire.

A trial is set for Tuesday afternoon in Torrance, where American Honda Motor Co. has its West Coast headquarters.

Heather Peters says her car never came close to getting the promised 50 miles per gallon, and as its battery deteriorated, it was getting only 30 mpg. She wants Honda to pay for her trouble and the extra money she spent on gas.

Peters, a former lawyer who long ago gave up her bar card, has devised a unique legal vehicle to drive Honda into court -- a small claims suit that could cost the company up to $10,000 in her case and every other individual case filed in the same manner.

If other claimants follow her lead, she estimates Honda could be forced to pay $2 billion in damages. No high-priced lawyers are involved and the process is streamlined.

More: www.DontSettleWithHonda.org

read … Hybrid Failure

Florida Murder Suspect Changes Name, Gets Hawaii Drivers License

WTSP: Kelly went home the weekend of March 12 to the Indian Rocks Beach condo (in Florida) that she shared with David Perry. She was going to break up with him. No one would ever see or hear from Kelly ever again.

David Perry has never been arrested, but he remains the prime suspect in the case. Dave, as his soon-to-be ex-wife calls him, told Melissa he had nothing to do with Kelly's disappearance….

Melissa says she ignored the glaring red flags and headlines for months on end. But, she finally made her move. She felt so uneasy, so sick, that she filed for divorce just hours before New Year's Eve on December 30, 2011 at 3 p.m. Hawaii time, where she currently lives….

Melissa is currently stationed in Hawaii where she's a member of the military, whereas David Perry is still living in his home state of New York. He faces charges of insurance fraud after being arrested over the summer of 2011, accused of lying to the state to gain thousands of dollars in a worker's comp case.

10 News asked Melissa, "Are you afraid ]David[ is coming after you?"

She said, "If I thought he was on plane to Hawaii, I'd be on a plane somewhere else."

In an odd twist, Kelly's friends tell us that David Perry took his soon-to-be ex-wife's name and goes by David Walker. He also got a Hawaii driver's license.

read … Florida Murder Suspect

Ex-prisoner, held beyond jail term, asks for review of claims

Alston was among an estimated hundreds of Hawaii prisoners whose sentences were recalculated by prison officials starting in 2005.

Alston was sentenced to prison in 1997 on two drug charges. His release date had been set for Aug. 4, 2007, but was reset to Nov. 17, 2011, after it had been reviewed.

The reason, prison officials said, was that his prison term on the drug charges had to run consecutively to an earlier robbery sentence.

But the judge who sentenced Alston in 1997 ruled that the terms were to run at the same time, or concurrently.

The three-judge panel found that there was no evidence prison officials received a copy of the judge's order.

The panel concluded that prison officials were under no obligation to go beyond their institutional records and review the court file.

read … Ex-prisoner, held beyond jail term, asks for review of claims

Driverless trains reflect not just new technology but also rigid labour laws

(And in Hawaii Rail is planned to be driverless as well….)

Panos: Large Unions and Massive Labor Laws Lead to Fewer Jobs

read … The Economist

DLIR Releases Hawaii Directory of "Green" Employers

News Release: The State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) today launched a web-based Directory of Green Employers as part of its Hawai'i Green Jobs Initiative. Green employers--who work in areas such as renewable energy production and natural resource conservation post profiles in the Directory that describe their operations, specify their core occupations, and describe the skills and education they want in employees. Jobseekers access the employer profiles to learn about these companies and the workers they require.

The Hawai'i Directory of Green Employers includes results from a 2010 survey conducted by the Hawai'i Green Jobs Initiative to assess the number of green jobs in the private sector in Hawai'i. These results and additional employer data can be found in the directory launched today. The online directory allows employers to update their information and new employers to add themselves to the directory.

"Hawai'i is blessed with hundreds of Green Employers operating thousands of work sites--and through our Green Jobs Initiative we are investing in Hawaii's workforce by providing training needed to work with green companies," said DLIR Director Dwight Takamine. "Now we have developed a comprehensive, centralized tool for matching existing employers with potential employees. This is an important step forward as we continue to build a sustainable economy."

To access the directory, go to https://lmi.ehawaii.gov/green

read … Green!

Barack Obama and the Enemies Within

News Release: Upon moving to Chicago, Obama became the Chief of Staff for Illinois State Senator Alice Palmer. Palmer, who visited Moscow during the Cold War as a journalist, had strong views on Marxism and introduced Obama to the power base of Chicago politics. As he ascended up the political ladder, Obama was continuously mentored and advised by leaders in the Marxist community.

read … Barack Obama and the Enemies Within

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